CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited
Keywords Internet, WWW
This is the first, of what is to be a regular feature in Property Management, which aims to provide greater awareness of the Internet and its potential. The primary focus will be to review selected sites of relevance to the readership on the World Wide Web (WWW). As the WWW is global it is simply not possible to know of, or keep abreast of the development of all of the sites. I would therefore be grateful to hear from anyone (either by e-mail or snail mail) who knows of any sites which they feel would be of benefit to the rest of the journal's readership.
This editorial is aimed at providing a brief and basic background to the Internet and WWW, and some of the jargon used. In future editorials I shall review a number of useful Web sites.
The Internet and the WWW
The Internet in its simplest form can be described as a number of computer networks all connected together. There are in fact millions of computers connected together worldwide, and in theory this means once you have access to one, you can access them all. It originated in the 1960s when it was developed in the USA as a means of circumventing damaged communication lines in the event of World War III. Since then it has grown, initially through use by academia, but more recently on a commercial level as businesses realise the benefits that the Internet can bring. Today, you can even access the Internet from kiosks on the streets of Amsterdam. The Internet supports a number of services: these include, for example, electronic mail, the WWW, newsgroups and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) which allows the transfer of files.
The WWW is often confused with the Internet, whereas in fact it is only part of it. The WWW was developed in 1989 as a means of sharing information on a global level. It is accessed through the Internet and allows users to view information in the form of text, images, sound and video clips. Sites are connected in such a way that by pointing and clicking at an object or text, movement between sites is achieved.
Navigating through the WWW
To navigate through the WWW, you need a browser. There are essentially two choices, either Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. The browser allows you to view the information on sites. As with most computer programs, it is relatively easy to navigate through the WWW after a brief acclimatisation period
There are four main areas to the browser, i.e. the viewing area (where the site details can be viewed); the address box (Web addresses will be discussed later) in which the address of the site you wish to visit is typed; the toolbar; and the pull-down menus (see Figure 1). From the toolbar you can move back and forward between the pages you have visited. If you visit a site you really like and wish to go back again, both browsers enable you to record the site address as a "favourite" or "bookmark", which can be used for easy access at a later date.
Figure 1 Section of a typical Web browser (excluding the viewing area)
The best time to access sites on the Web is usually when there are few users. In the UK this tends to be first thing in the morning, this way moving between sites and loading-up details of pages is much faster, especially where graphics are used. Once America comes on-line, the Web generally starts to slow down as traffic on the Internet increases.
Nowadays we are all familiar with seeing adverts with an address such as http://www.abcde.co.uk. This is known as a Uniform Resource Locator or URL for short and is unique for each site and page. Take for example the address of the home page for the School of the Built Environment at the University of Glamorgan:
The "http://" part indicates that a WWW connection is being made, the "www.glam.ac.uk/" is the location of the Web server on which the pages are stored. The "schools/sbe/sbe_home.htm" is the directory path and file name of the Web page.
If you know the address of a site, simply type the address in the address box of the browser, press return, and with luck the page will load up. Errors can occur for a number of reasons. Ensure the address has been typed out correctly (URLs can be case sensitive) using the right punctuation. However, it could be that the server where the pages are stored is out of action, or the address of the site has changed.
A number of search engines are available allowing you to type in the name of the site you wish to visit, from which a list of different sites will usually appear, and you can simply click on the one you wish to access. Of course, with so many sites on the Web you will find many are of no relevance to you. It could be the one you wish to choose is not even there.
To search you can choose the "search" button from the toolbar. In Microsoft Internet Explorer this will take you to the Microsoft Web site from where you can choose to search using one of five search engines (Yahoo!, Infoseek, Lycos, Excite and AOL net find). I quite often use Yahoo! which allows you to search for sites in the UK and Ireland, or the whole of the Web (http://www.yahoo.co.uk). As an alternative you may consider all4one (http://all4one.com) which allows you to search using four search engines (Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite and HotBot) simultaneously.
Sometimes the searching can be time consuming and wasteful. I once tried to find the Principality Building Society's Web page and used several search engines, which came up with nothing of relevance. I then tried another trick that has come in useful since. Knowing the extension is likely to be ".co.uk" I typed in the address box "http://www.principality.co.uk" and within seconds I had accessed the pages of the Building Society. As companies and organisations have their name within the address, this can often be a quite useful way of searching in the first instance. Other sites may end in ".org.uk", ".ac.uk" and ".com". In future issues I will review sites and the use of these terms will become more obvious.
The WWW for property professionals
The WWW has much to offer property professionals, both as a means to access information, but also as a way of advertising, and it is, for example, already being used to advertise and sell property. Elsewhere it is used for banking, shopping and the promotion of academia.
As an information resource, the MCB Web site is a prime example of how information can be accessed on-line. From the home page (http://www.mcb.co.uk) you can gain access to details of all the journals (over 100) provided by MCB University Press, including abstracts of papers in previous issues. By clicking on "Portfolio" you can list these alphabetically or by subject category, with property-related journals (including Property Management), located within the property management portfolio. You can also register to keep updated with the electronic
information service. There is also the Property Management and Facilities Global Forum (http://mcb.co.uk/pmgf/) which provides information, advice and access to resources of interest to the subject area.
For those with an interest, and would like to know more about the Internet and the WWW, I can recommend the 1998 Rough Guide to the Internet and the WWW by Angus Kennedy. At only £5, the book provides a useful overview on getting connected, how to find information, a history of the Internet, but also provides a directory with a number of Web addresses to find out further information on a variety of subjects, including real estate.
In future issues I will provide a review of various sites of interest to the readership, for example, those of surveying bodies, and issues topical to property management. By way of example, as we head towards the millennium, one cannot ignore the issue of the "millennium bug". Those of you concerned about the issue may wish to visit the UK Government's Web site (http://www.open.gov.uk/bug2000) which provides information on what to do, product compliance, and links to further information for small, medium and large organisations.
Nigel AlmondCentre for Research in the Built Environment, University of Glamorgan.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org